Howdy ladies and gents and welcome to Day #13 of my Month of Nostalgic Game Reviews where I’ll be giving you reviews of some of my most nostalgic video games from my childhood. Today the Sonic love ends with the second half of Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles!
So this game was released in the latter part of 1994, several months after Sonic 3 and as I said before this is the second half of the previous Sonic game. In this game there are 2 stories. The premise for Sonic takes place immediately after Sonic beats Dr. Robotnik and sends his Death Egg crashing into Floating Island. So Sonic spends this game tracking down Robotnik and collecting the Chaos Emeralds while conflicting with Knuckles along the way. Whereas for Knuckles his premise takes place apparently after Sonic’s and it involves Knuckles chasing after “Egg Robo” (this story’s main antagonist), after it attacks him. After hunting him down this leads to a confrontation with Mecha Sonic who has the Master Emerald too, so Knuckles will need to defeat him in order to get his emerald back.
In terms of gameplay it’s virtually unchanged for the most part, besides getting a few new levels and changes to what one expected in Sonic 3. The main formula for this platforming game is still the same, you run from left to right trying to get to the goal at the end of the level while avoiding enemies and environmental hazards. You still have access to all the power-ups from before and still have to fight a mini boss at the end of Act 1 and fight the main boss at the end of Act 2. Though there are some new aspects like:
- The use of Knuckles as a playable character. He’s slower and not as fast as Sonic, however he has the ability to glide through the air and can climb walls allowing him to get to areas Sonic can’t. Also the game is slightly harder when playing as Sonic.
- In this game alone Tails isn’t a playable character.
- When passing the star post checkpoints there’s 2 new mini games available when you pass the star post with 20 rings are more.
But the big new feature was the “lock-on technology” feature. Consider it like an expansion pack or the earlier form of DLC through cartridges. This feature allowed the Sonic 3 and Sonic 2 cartridges to slot on top of Sonic & Knuckles and access their data and combine them all into one game. In regards to Sonic 3, when you put it together with Sonic & Knuckles you got Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the full experience the way it was originally intended. In this combined game you could play through all of the levels of both games as Sonic, Knuckles or Tails and in addition to the super forms, if you collected Super Emeralds you could unlock the characters’ Hyper forms too. And in regards to Sonic 2, you basically got to control Knuckles throughout that game which was interesting to see how he’d interact with that environment. And lastly when it came to Sonic 1 and all other Sega Mega Drive game cartridges you played an infinite number of variations of the Special Stages from Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
When it comes to my nostalgic memories of Sonic & Knuckles, it isn’t as strong as Sonic 3. You see I originally only owned Sonic 1-3, but never had a copy of Sonic & Knuckles until I sought the game out and bought it myself I think in either 1998/9 or maybe even 2000. While playing the game was fun, it felt a lot harder than Sonic 3 and while I liked Mushroom Hill Zone and Flying Battery Zone, when I got to Sandopolis Zone I just so angry, it was so frigging hard, frustrating and unnecessarily tedious. Though I did like playing as Knuckles in the game which did make an interesting change from playing as Sonic and Tails. When it came to using the “lock-on technology” when I used it on Sonic 3, I never really used it that much because playing through all of the levels sounded like a chore to me and as Knuckles I was only playing the game to see what Sonic 3‘s levels would be like with him in it. I found it more fun to use Knuckles in Sonic 2 and as for locking on Sonic 1 I’d just try out some of the Stage Stages for a while until my mind turned to mush haha. I never really played much of Sonic & Knuckles and used the lock-on feature until I got Sonic Jam and abused the hell out of it when I was a teenager.
In conclusion while this half of Sonic 3 for me isn’t nearly as cool as the first half, Sonic & Knuckles does have its own merits. Some levels are extremely memorable thanks to the level design, visuals and awesome music and being able to use the lock-on technology for the previous Sonic games is pretty badass. If you’re planning on playing Sonic & Knuckles make sure to do it with a copy of Sonic 3 to experience the game at its full potential.
And on day 13 that’s the end of my Sonic madness, come back tomorrow where I’ll have another nostalgic game to talk about. 🙂